2021 was the 161st running of the Melbourne Cup. Since the first running in 1861 only 3 fillies and 12 mares have won the Cup for a total of 17 wins.

3YO Fillies that Won the Melbourne Cup

In the past it was more common to race three-year-olds in the Melbourne Cup than it is today. The last three-year-old to win the Cup was the colt Skipton in 1941. The first female winner was the filly Briseis in 1876. The other two fillies were Auraria in 1895 and Sister Olive in 1921.

Winning Melbourne Cup Mares

Eleven mares have won 13 Melbourne Cups between them. They are

Name Year Age
Verry Elleegant 2021 6
Makybe Diva 2003-05 5,6,7
Ethereal 2001 4
Jezabeel 1998 6
Let’s Elope 1991 4
Empire Rose 1988 6
Light Fingers 1965 4
Hi Jinx 1960 5
Evening Peal 1956 4
Rainbird 1945 4
Rivette 1939 6
Acrasia 1904 7


Makybe Diva is the only female horse to win more than one Melbourne Cup with her unbelievable three consecutive wins in 2003, 2004 and 2005 at the ages of 5, 6 and 7.

Lead-up Races for Cup Winning Mares

Before Verry Elleegant won in 2021 she raced in the Cox Plate (3rd), Turnbull Stakes (4th), George Main Stakes (1st) and Winx Stakes (2nd).

In 2005 Makybe Divas lead-up form for the Spring preparation was the Cox Plate (1st), Turnbull Stakes (1st), Feehan Stakes (2nd) and Memsie Stakes (1st). In 2004 it was the Caulfield Cup (2nd), Turnbull Stakes (7th) and Feehan Stakes (2nd). In 2003 it was the Caulfield Cup (4th) and the Turnbull Stakes (4th).

When Ethereal won as a four-year-old in 2001 her lead-up races were the Caulfield Cup (1st) and Yalumba Stakes (3rd). Jezabeel won in 1998 as a six-year-old with lead-ups in the Caulfield Cup (6th), Yalumba Stakes (6th), Turnbull Stakes (6th) and Underwood Stakes (2nd).

Let’s Elope was the last Bart Cummings trained mare to win the Cup and was a four-year-old when she won in 1991. Her last lead-up race was the Mackinnon (1st) three days before the Cup and before that the Caulfield Cup (1st), Turnbull Stakes (1st) and the Naturalism Stakes (10th). The Mackinnon is now run on the Saturday after the Cup so it can no longer be used as a lead-up.

Backing Mares in the Melbourne Cup

The statistics above suggest that male horses are about 9 times more likely to win the Melbourne Cup than female horses. The lead-up runs of mares that have won in the last twenty years suggest that the mares most likely to win are those that perform well in the Cox Plate, Caulfield Cup and Turnbull Stakes leading up to the race .

Something else to keep in mind as you set out to pick your winner for the first Tuesday in November!


Read How to Pick the Melbourne Cup Winner and Melbourne Cup Statistics.

Now visit the 2021 Melbourne Cup horses and see which horses are going to give you the best chance to win.